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First a French Hissy Fit, now a Belgian Hissy Fit …

November 10, 2011

The field of art restitution claims is about to get a bit more crowded … and substantially more interesting.  According to an article in Le Monde, officials in the French-speaking Belgian city of Tournai want France’s Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes to return a major painting by Peter Paul Rubens they say was stolen … in 1794!  (On the heels of this week’s row between the French government and London-based Weiss Gallery, this is pretty ironic.)  Putting aside all the details, were the painting to be repatriated to Belgium, it would open up a giant restitution feeding frenzy resulting in the disruption of public and private collections throughout the world.

“The Triumph of Judas Maccabeus”

OK, that may be a bit of hyperbole … in fact, officials are saying they only want the return of this one painting.

“It would be foolish to think we could get everything back at once,” said Richard Miller, a former regional Minister of Culture and member of the Mouvement Reformateur (Reformist Movement), a French-speaking liberal party. “Still, we could try to get them back one item at a time, each case based on cast-iron arguments.”

This is so worth watching …

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